Blog - 19th May 2023

May 19th 2023, 13:06

Blog - 19th May 2023

In this blog I consider the Social Housing Regulation Bill that is expected to be enacted in July 2023; the green and white papers that preceded it and registering new registered providers.

The Social Housing Regulation Bill is currently in the House of Lords where they are considering amendments agreed in the House of Commons. It is expected to receive royal assent and be enacted in July 2023. It is described as ‘A Bill to make provision about the regulation of social housing; about the terms of approved schemes for the investigation of housing complaints; and for connected purposes’.

The Bill provides the legal basis for many of the measures set out in the 2020 social housing white paper that followed the green paper of 2018. The government’s intention is to deliver ‘transformational change’ for social housing residents and fulfil their pledge to empower residents, provide greater redress, better regulation and improve the quality of social housing.

In my response to the green paper of 2018 I argued that:

  • The role of tenants in the management of local authority and housing association housing should be enhanced. They should be stakeholders rather than customers with a meaningful role in decision-making.
  • Complaints processes should be focused on empowering front-line staff to resolve both complaints and the underlying issues that cause repeat complaints.
  • Regulation should become more transparent.
  • Housing Association Boards should become more accountable.
  • Procedures should be put in place to ensure that housing association mergers follow a more transparent process with meaningful tenant engagement.
  • Performance Indicators should focus on tenant satisfaction.
  • Community-based housing associations should be encouraged to take over the ownership and management of existing local authority and housing association stock as appropriate.
  • The balance of government funding for housing should be changed to provide more support for below-market rented housing and grants to support new social housing should be increased.
  • Local authorities should be given more flexibility over the management of ‘right to buy’ and ‘right to buy’ receipts should be localised.
  • The self-financing settlement should be revisited to take account of reduced rents, the need to spend more on major repairs and to provide ‘headroom’ to fund new development.

Many, but not all, of these issues have been addressed in the white paper and the bill.

To view or download a copy of my response to the green paper, please click here.


Bramble Court at Brampton in Cumbria. An extra care elderly scheme opened by Impact Housing Association when I was Chair.

The Bill is intended to strengthen the regulatory regime to change the behaviour of social housing landlords to focus on the tenants’ needs. It also aims to ensure landlords are held to account for their performance. The core objectives of the Bill are to:

Facilitate a new, proactive consumer regulation regime by:

  • Making safety, transparency and energy efficiency part of the Social Housing Regulator’s fundamental objectives.
  • Enabling the Regulator to set standards for the competence and conduct of staff working for registered providers of social housing.
  • Requiring registered providers to nominate a designated person for health and safety issues.
  • Giving the Secretary of State the power to introduce new requirements for registered providers relating to electrical safety checks.
  • Empowering the Regulator to direct registered providers to collect and publish performance information.
  • Requiring regular inspections of registered providers.
  • Refining the existing economic regulatory regime
Ensure providers are well governed and financially viable to protect homes and investment in new supply by:
  • Ensuring the Regulator has a clear understanding of a registered provider’s corporate structure and any changes that could influence how it operates.
  • Broadening the Regulator’s power to require people to provide documents or information for regulatory purposes.
Strengthen the Regulator’s powers to enforce the consumer and economic regimes, so that they can effectively intervene when required by:
  • Removing the ‘serious detriment’ test, that is a legislative barrier to the Regulator’s action on consumer issues that was introduced by the government in 2010.
  • Giving the Regulator the power to require a registered provider to prepare and implement a performance improvement plan.
  • Removing the cap on the level of fines the Regulator can issue.


Flats in Kirkgate in Wakefield owned by Wakefield & District Housing

It is expected that the new proactive regulatory regime will start in 2024. From April 2024 there will be five regulatory standards of which three will be economic standards and five will be consumer standards. It has yet to be decided whether the regulator will issue gradings for the consumer standards in the way that it currently does for the economic standards. There will be a pilot inspection programme, a requirement to measure tenant satisfaction and strengthened governance expectations.

The Bill also contains provisions to empower the Housing Ombudsman to issue a code of practice on complaint handling and monitor compliance with the code; and to formalise and strengthen the relationship between the Regulator and the Housing Ombudsman.

Amendments to the Bill were agreed in the House of Commons. These included Awaab’s Law that will mean that all social landlords will have to remove hazards like damp and mould in their homes within set time frames. This Law will stand as a tribute to Awaab’s family for their tireless fight for justice over the last two years. Once the Bill is passed, the government will consult with the housing sector on these time limits and will set secondary legislation for Awaab’s Law as soon as parliamentary time allows.

The Bill provides that all senior social housing managers gain a housing management qualification. This amendment, supported by Grenfell United and Shelter, is intended drive the culture change that government considers is needed in the sector, so residents receive a high level of service and are treated with respect at all times.

Most of the Bill’s clauses amend Part 2 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 that sets out the framework for the regulation of social housing in England.

The Bill has been broadly welcomed by social housing providers and organisations representing social housing tenants.

The next step for this Bill is the House of Lords where it will be considered as part of a process known as Lords Consideration of Commons Amendments. This involves the amendments made in the House of Commons, like Awaab’s Law, being considered in the House of Lords.

The date for this stage is yet to be confirmed but the government is confident the Bill will go for Royal Assent and become law this parliamentary session.

My next webinar will be on ‘How to Register a New Registered Provider (Housing Association)’. It will be held on 20th July 2023. For further information or to register, please click here.

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